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What happened to the golden rule?

Do unto others. Treat other people with respect. We all want our children to speak respectfully and treat others as they would like to be treated. A lack of respect for adults can be frustrating, but changing the behavior is possible. Respect for others is a learned and practiced behavior.

Follow these steps to teach respect:

Model the Behavior

Your child observes the adults around her and how they treat others. Be sure you and others show respect to each other. Be respectful to your child. Children are very observant and great imitators. 

Set Clear Expectations

Clearly tell her what you expect. For example addressing the adult by “Mr.” or “Mrs.”; and saying please, may I, and thank you. Identify the authority figures in her life (teachers, grandparents). 

Establish Consequences 

Be clear and consistent about the consequence of being disrespectful. For a school-aged child or teen, losing privileges is appropriate. With younger children, time out or the loss of a favorite activity can be used. 

Recognize Progress

If your child is changing behavior, recognize the positive. Tell her you like how she spoke to the neighbor, or asked for a second helping at dinner. Letting your child know you are aware of the change reinforces more positive changes and improves self-esteem.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Children need to practice the behavior. You will need to have patience, give reminders and be consistent. This takes time – but the behavior will change.

Think of this approach as creating an atmosphere of respect around your child. Children who can observe respect and have a sense they are respected as individuals have all the tools to become respectful. 

Katrena Lacey, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic Gretna

Dr. Lacey answers your questions about child development and parenting. Dr. Lacey is a specialist in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. She tells us," This specialty allows me to practice like a Family Medicine doctor and treat the whole family - but, I have that additional training in pediatrics and internal medicine." She feels she can make a big difference in the lives of children. She enjoys building relationships with people while helping them live the healthiest and happiest ...

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